Re: Some questions on phonology
|From:||R A Brown <ray@...>|
|Date:||Monday, October 13, 2008, 16:08|
Falcata Lusa wrote:
> If we could go back in time and see (and hear) the first speaking hominids,
> what do you think their sounds could be like?
Without time travel, this is merely speculation & guesswork. Indeed, how
far back in time would we need to go. This itself is controversial. I
remember a time when it was confidently held by most that language was
strictly a property of Homo sapiens. Now it is AFAIK generally held that
Neanderthal man probably spoke (assuming that Neanderthal man is 'Homo
neanderthalis' rather than 'Homo sapiens neanderthalis'), and it is now
suggested that Homo erectus also used language.
> Which points of articulation could they probably use for their pulmonic
> consonants? More labial or more laryngeal?
> Which manner of articulation? Would the fricative be the most common? Or the
> plosive? Or other?
> Would this consonants be more likely voiced or unvoiced?
> Would they have click consonants in their language?
> All of this questions have to do with this:
> I have been working for a while on a phonology for my new conlang. I refer
> to it as KLT, will probably be kalata, but I haven't decided yet.
> It was supposed to be spoken by a small Neanderthal population,
There was a time, not so long ago, that one found it confidently stated
that Neanderthals' anatomy did not allow them to produce speech
(something to do with that there hyoid bone), and that their social
structure were too primitive to need the use of speech. It is now known
that there was no anatomical reason why Neanderthals could not have had
speech similar to us moderns, and it is generally accepted that their
social structures were likely to be developed enough so that language
would be need, i.e. that Neanderthals are likely to have had language.
See, for example:
As for what sounds they would have had, you might like to take a look at:
As for possible Neanderthal phonologies (there is, of course, no reason
to suppose that all Neanderthal groups spoke the same language any more
that all members of Homo sapiens (sapiens) speak the same language),
that surely is anyone's guess. If their vocal anatomy was not critically
different from modern Man, then presumably their range of possible
consonants & vowels was similar to our own.
> What other consonants do you think are missing in the group, or which ones
> are dissonant. Why?
> (for the Phonetic transcription I used CXS, from http://www.theiling.de/ipa/
> Two last questions, somehow related to the above writing:
> Is there a study on the chronology of consonants? Which ones appeared first
> and why?
> Is there a study on the chronology of vowels? Which ones appeared first and
As it is impossible to go very far back in time in our study of language
(writing appeared only some 5000 years ago - and by reconstructing
earlier languages like PIE we can perhaps go back another millennium,
this leave long millennia for which, without time travel, we have no
data. No such studies are possible.
However, studies have been made on the chronology by which infants
acquire different sounds. See, for example
How relevant that is to Neanderthal phonologies, I don't know,
Mark J. Reed wrote:
> Then P-I-E could have been spoken as Neanderthalese for untold
> centuries, changing much more slowly than modern human langs, before
> being picked up and subjected to relatively rapid generational change
> by H. sapiens.
Aw - didn't PIE develop from Nostratic? ;)
But somehow I don't think Neanderthals were speaking either PIE or
Frustra fit per plura quod potest
fieri per pauciora.
[William of Ockham]